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That was the week that was.

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That was the week that was.

Juliet Flynn has led the planning for this years Staff Wellbeing Week and reflects on her own wellbeing and how she might influence the wellbeing of others.

I started my planning for this years Staff Wellbeing Week by getting a group of interested colleagues from across the University in a room and asked them “what does wellbeing mean to you?”. The responses were personal, inspiring, energising and above all, diverse. I realised very quickly that wellbeing is an intensely individual and intangible feeling. How on earth was I going to deliver a week that meant something to everyone?

The truth is I couldn’t and I haven’t. However I was determined to not be deterred by this fatalistic notion and instead be emboldened by it. Perhaps this week could instead be a provocation to everyone to rethink their wellbeing, to try something they wouldn’t normally turn to. To explore notions of wellbeing they had not considered. To begin a yet unsaid conversation about how we stay well at work despite conflicting pressures and notions of success.

For my part I have often had relatively easy access to my wellbeing. Perhaps it is my intrinsic laziness that means I rarely push myself beyond my limits into a stress zone. Perhaps it is my luck at being surrounded by family and friends on whom I know I can rely. Others would say it is my stoic philosophy of life. Much of it in recent years has been my determination to prioritise my wellbeing and make active choices that enable me to stay well. This has not been a straight road though – I have stayed in jobs and relationships way beyond their healthy end, I have abandoned exercise regimes, talked myself readily into just one more drink or slice of cake, left chores and tasks for far too long and then been so angry with myself for it that I could not focus on anything else, been distracted by Facebook, driven to the shops when I should have walked…..and so it goes on.

But what I have come to realise is that this is entirely human; people around me have made similar decisions and I do not view them with the disdain I have felt about myself. This realisation has given me confidence to notice and acknowledge those times when I made choices that perhaps are not in my best interests, and to say “I made that decision because it was the right one for me in that moment, and I am only human”.  My confidence has empowered me to instead focus on choices I make that are positive, and do more of those things. I have joined a choir and am no longer phased by singing in public (much to my children’s embarrassment!), I don’t beat myself up when all I want to do on a Sunday afternoon is indulge in a box set instead of cleaning the bathroom. I have joined a local community campaign and set up the CCCU staff walking group “Explore the City”. Sometimes I go for the walks or runs I plan, sometimes I don’t. Crucially I talk about what I am doing and encourage others to be similarly empowered every day.

At work I notice so many people who do not have the confidence to talk about their wellbeing. I am lucky that I have many moments in my work where I can encourage people to change that habit – however habits are hard to break. I have had feedback that the events planned for this week are brilliant and inspiring, and in other moments I have been laughed at or berated for my efforts. As I said at the beginning, I was never going to be able to deliver a week that meant something to everyone. So if I have achieved nothing else with this week of activities I hope that it encourages one person, one manager, one team to talk about wellbeing at work and to be empowered to take responsibility for their own.

The collaborative team who have put together Staff Wellbeing Week would love your feedback. Complete one of the feedback forms available throughout the week, or email staff.wellbeing@canterbury.ac.uk 

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3 comments on “That was the week that was

  1. I enjoyed wellbeing week so much. I think, as it was so well promoted, that people were aware so I didn’t feel guilty about leaving my desk to take part in events. I now use the exercise bike for half an hour every morning (ten-fifteen minutes cycling, the rest of the time catching my breath) before I start my shift. I use that time to reflect on my goals and ambitions.

    I have found I get good ideas during my morning reflection time. Lately I have been trying to decide what to do in regards to my personal development – I have been torn between writing (which I love), researching (which I hope to embed in my career) and doing something that will make other people feel valued. Over the period of a couple of weeks I became so focussed on trying to clear my personal development path that I felt emboldened to ask for what I wanted. So I did.

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